This is Art, Not Porn,
This review is from: Jewels (Hardcover)
From the dawn of civilisation, humankind has been fascinated by the Phallus. Cave paintings, ithyphallic statues, amulets, the art and custom of ancient Greece, Priapic gods and satyrs. In ancient Rome the Phallus was a commonly used symbol, adorning doorways, jewellery and common household objects. It was crafted as a talisman in the same way that the Phallus is displayed and venerated to this very day in Japan, Bhutan and other parts of Asia. It is still possible to take part in ceremonies that worship the Phallus, attend shrines, admire Phallus decorated architecture both ancient and modern and even visit the seaside theme park if you happen by South Korea. And Vivienne Westwood has recently resurrected the Phallus as a decorative motif on her iconic jewellery. There seems to be a definite rediscovery of interest in all things to do with the penis!
It is against this backdrop that the excellent publisher, Bruno Gmunder, offers us his wonderful book, the full title of which is "Jewels - Adoration of the Penis"
Jewels is an homage. Within the high quality hard backed volume you will find the work of seventy artists, all of whom celebrate the subject in a slightly different way. Most pieces are solos, and you'll get to see the subject displayed in all its natural states! There is a scattering of images involving two or more males, but none are what I'd personally classify as shocking.
If art is created with passion and a desire to transmit a message or an emotion, it invariably has the ability to engage the viewer. This, I feel, is the essence of all great art. The 166 photographs and 57 artworks span a broad range of viewpoints, and in each I found a unique narrative. These are images that transcend the "porn" genre. I experienced a whole range of emotions whilst looking through the book. Much as I would in an art gallery I found myself passing briefly by a few, whilst being transfixed by some. Saddened, aroused, intrigued, baffled, amused - my journey through the book was a leisurely adventure of the emotions. Each reader will find their own favourite pieces, but I was particularly struck by two images at the rear of the volume which I found deeply erotic - one by Henning Von Berg and the other a monotone and gold image of a rampant man/stallion by Ricardo Muniz. I would be delighted to find a copy of the latter for my wall, but the search eludes me.
A very useful artwork index appears at the rear of the book, in the form of thumbnails. The images are not intruded apon by text in the main section, so identification of artist and title is made possible here. Following that is an index of the contributing artists themselves, together with location and web address.
Altogether I am very impressed by this book. It has given me new insight into the breadth of work existing, and provides a starting point to explore the work of some of the artists it introduces me to. There are several books available that deal with photographic images of the penis, but all are not equal. "Jewels" is certainly the best I have discovered to date.
I recommend this book whole heartedly, and to a wide audience - sexual orientation need not be a boundary when exploring art, and likewise this book will have appeal to both men and women.